If you are a small business owner of a antique business, you have probably heard the “death knoll claims”, been deluged with discouragement from the “gloom and doom”crowd and look frequently out your window to see if “the funeral procession” is passing by…I am here to tell you that while antiques as well as all discretionary retail businesses are challenged…they are not dead and won’t be any time soon!
Almost every day I hear the constant comment from some customers and a lot of discouraged dealers saying that the antique is industry is dead, dying or disappearing. There rationale is:
1. The existing customer isn’t buying.
2. The existing customer has bought all they intend to.
3. The younger customer isn’t interested.
4. Everyone that might be buying is buying online.
I would like to give you “tough and committed” antique dealers who have store fronts some counter intuitive insight and contrarian opinion about the “state of things in the antique industry”.
For years the antique industry (like many other industries in America) became over populated with part time, marginally committed participants who saw there opportunity to turn a “passion for garage sales” into “off or on the books” profits with little day to day efforts through the proliferation of antique malls everywhere! These dealers would “plop down” a security deposit, load up the SUV, get a few tables and cloths together and open up a Antique Mall Space. The large size of this group proliferated a huge amount of antique malls popping up on many main streets and malls throughout the United States.
The fallacy of this concept was the space was expensive, add on percentages pretty high, and marginally committed staff not having the same “vested interest” as a owner of a mall space would have. The dealers in the malls were not “retailing veterans” and in many cases found out at the end of the month that instead of the “slush funds” that they thought they had created, a bill for the short fall between space rent and sales was waiting for them on the first of the month instead of the hoped for check. A new “harsh reality” sunk in to the mall space tenants and they soon said this is not a good idea and “bailed” in record numbers. The “bailing process” of mall space tenants created huge empty gaps in antique malls and led to a new reality for the antique mall owner “they are upside down on their rent due to the vacancies”. This has led to record Antique Malls closing their doors and hanging the “for rent” signs on the front of the buildings.
What is the post mortem of this process? “Bigger opportunities” for the surviving retail outlets for the sale of antiques by getting a bigger slice of a (economically caused) smaller pie. This is a moment to not lament the advent of online antique sales but take advantage of it. The internet gives a dealer a chance to reach …